NFA 2014 in Chicago! A Letter from NFA Program Chair Philip Dikeman

Philip Dikeman | July August 2014

NFA 2014 – Chicago
    The 2014 convention will take place in Chicago from Thursday, August 7 to Sunday, August 10. (Selected pre-convention activities occur Wednesday, August 6.) The convention will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Not only will talented flutists of all ages be in attendance, but the convention site is one of the most exciting cities in America. Come early and stay late to take advantage of everything the NFA Convention and Chicago have to offer. The convention will be held at the historic Chicago Hilton on Michigan Avenue. Go to for more information.

    Recently Beth Chandler, the President of the National Flute Association, asked me to read over her latest letter to the NFA membership before sending it off to the printer. In it, she talked about the upcoming NFA Convention that will be held in Chicago this coming August for which I am Program Chair. What struck me while reading Beth’s letter was her mention of her very first NFA Convention in 1992, held in Los Angeles. She talked about all the wonderful experiences she had, performances she attended, friends she saw, and new friendships made during her 4-day stay in the City of Angels.
    After reading Beth’s letter, it got me to thinking about the first convention I ever attended, back in 1981 at the Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, Michigan. At the time I had just graduated from high school and was getting ready to head off to study with Mr. Willoughby at Oberlin (to this day, Mr. Willoughby has told me, “Call me Bob!” but I just can’t do it. To me, he will always be Mr. Willoughby.) My high school teacher at that time was Glennis Stout, and she had encouraged me to apply for the High School Flute Choir. I was accepted, so come August I found myself at the convention just taking it all in for the entire four-day run.
    The following are just a few of the memories I have of the 1981 convention:
    •    Hearing various performances of La Merle Noir by Messiaen for the very first time in my life at the Young Artist Competition
    •    Attending the Orchestral Audition Competition
    •    Meeting Mark Sparks who would become a classmate the following fall.
    •    Seeing Gary Schocker in the elevator and being star struck.
    •    Attending the Concerto Gala at Orchestra Hall.
    •    Hearing Alexander Zonjic play a jazz cabaret concert that was amazing.
    •    Seeing Mr. Willoughby at an event and feeling slightly overwhelmed knowing I would begin studying with him the following month.
    •    Playing the concert with the High School Flute Choir with Trevor Wye conducting.
    I never would have imagined that 33 years later I would be the Program Chair for the 2014 Convention (with the help of my good friend Alice Dade, Assistant Program Chair). At that point in my life, I was just beginning my musical career. The 2014 convention includes many of the people I have met at school, summer festivals, professional engagements, and past NFA conventions between then and now. What a great thing to be able to say that many of the performers and presenters are people that have become good friends over the years.
    There are four evening gala concerts featuring Christina Jennings, Jonathan Keeble, Cecilie Løken, Maxence Larrieu (2014 NFA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner), Nicola Mazzanti, Carol Wincenc, Claire Chase, Nancy Stagnitta and friends, Project Trio, Julien Beaudiment, Leone Buyse, Robert Dick (2014 NFA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner), Mary Kay Fink, and Sarah Jackson. During the convention there will be recitals and concerts, masterclasses, flute choirs, competitions, workshops, lectures, and panel discussions,
    In the last 18 months as I have worked on the convention plans, I have met many new people who will be in Chicago – performers, presenters, and people affiliated with the NFA. I hope many will become friends for the next 33 years. The flute world is very small, and the NFA convention is a wonderful opportunity to cross paths and develop relationships with colleagues. It is exciting to think that among the young players attending the convention this August, one of them might be Program Chair in 2047. I look forward to seeing many of you this August at the Hilton in Chicago.

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Having Fun in Chicago!
    The reward for living through a Chicago winter is its glorious summer, and visitors to the NFA convention in August will find countless choices of things to see and do. Flute Talk is based in the Chicago area, so we wanted to share a few of our favorite places.

    The long-time summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the lush green lawns of Ravinia are a soothing summer playground for music lovers and wine sippers alike. In recent years the musical schedule has leaned toward rock groups, and even the symphony concerts are designed to draw the masses. Getting to Ravinia is simple as the Metra commuter train stops right at the gate. On August 7 and 8 the park will show The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on giant video screens with musical accompaniment by the Chicago Symphony. (

The Jazz Showcase
    A Chicago musical institution since the 1940s, the Jazz Showcase has occupied many addresses during its long history, but club owner Joe Segal had maintained the strength of the music. Nearly all of the greats of the post-World War II era have played at the club. For information on the schedule and directions to the Showcase’s excellent location in Dearborn Station, visit

The View from Above
   The glass skydeck at the former Sears Tower suffered non-structural cracks in its protective coating this spring, making national news and scaring the wits out of tourists. Now, the rival John Hancock building has raised the skydeck stakes with Tilt, which allows visitors to have a bird’s eye view of the city as they lean against glass panels that tilt forward up to 30 degrees. So far, there have been no reports of broken glass on Tilt.

A Thriving Restaurant Scene
    Chicago has always had great restaurants, but in recent years, a number of new restaurants have added excitement for Chicago foodies. One of the hardest reservations in the city is Girl & the Goat, led by Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard. Fans from around the world fill the restaurant to dine on lamb-stuffed calamari, pig face, and the best green beans you have ever tasted. Although the restaurant books up months in advance, savvy diners know that you can often find a seat in the comfy lounge area near the bar and order off the entire menu. One great source for restaurants is the Eater Chicago website with its helpful lists of the hottest restaurants, best brunches, and best places to drink.  (

Baseball on the North Side
    The Cubs will play the Tampa Bay Rays on August 8-10 at Wrigley Field. With the team in the midst of a wrenching rebuilding effort, it is easier to get tickets at the box office on game day. Changes are afoot at Wrigley with a planned $575 million renovation scheduled to start later in the year. While nearly everyone agrees that the century-old ballpark badly needs some updates, the renovation plan also includes a controversial jumbotron next to the classic manual scoreboard. Come see Wrigley while it is still Wrigley. (

Music in Millennium Park
    One of the great additions to the Chicago park system is Millennium Park, which transformed a 24.5 acre parcel of parking lots and abandoned rail tracks into a new jewel along Lake Michigan. The story goes that former mayor Richard M. Daley had dental appointments across the street from the unsightly property and would see it out the window as he was getting his teeth cleaned. Although the park endured delays and massive cost overruns (this is Chicago after all), everyone who visits the park marvels at the Frank Gehry designed pavilion and the giant sculpture known casually as the Bean. During the NFA convention, the park will have concerts by the Grant Park Symphony including a new work called Aurora Borealis by composer Christopher Theofanidis with awe-inspiring images from space. (

Museums and More
    Chicago is known for its world class museums. The Museum Campus, located on the lakefront just minutes from the Hilton, includes the Field Museum of Natural History, the Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. Others not to miss include the Museum of Science and Industry and the Art Institute of Chicago. There are many others to explore as well. Nearby Navy Pier is home to a wide variety of attractions including the Chicago Children’s Museum, a giant Ferris wheel, and the IMax Theatre with a six-story movie screen.
    Be sure to take time to enjoy Chicago’s summer weather with a jog along the lakefront path, a stop at the beach, or a river or lakefront cruise to admire the city’s magnificent architecture.